It’s been more than two decades since the MERITUS team visited the Madras circuit at the start of their Asian adventure. Our Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan enjoyed success on his home soil when he contested the Formula Asia 2000 series, and he was crowned the 1996 champion. At the time, MERITUS.GP boss Peter Thompson dubbed Narain “the fastest Indian in the world” and correctly predicted that he would reach Formula 1 within ten years! Now the team are back in India to find the next success story.
- 6 races over 2 back-to-back weekends
- International drivers from all around the world
- MERITUS.GP team developed the career of India’s first F1 driver
- Successful history, ongoing experience, cost-effective F4 training
- Level playing field: first time out on the new Madras track
From Coimbatore, Narain is the first Formula One driver from India. He made his Formula One debut in 2005 with the Jordan team; he was a Williams F1 test driver in 2006 and 2007, and raced with HRT until it was sold in 2013.
It is with some nostalgia then, that the long-standing members of the team will return to the Madras circuit, as they continue to help young drivers on the pathway to realize their dreams. The new 2018 format means that all rounds are double-headers, so the team will be encamped at the Tamil Nadu track for two weeks, giving plenty of opportunity for reminiscing and soaking up the atmosphere of the Indian sub-continent.
Plenty of changes and new developments have taken place since the team’s last visit, as the track has recently undergone a full year of renovation work. The newly spruced-up paddock includes a new pit complex, 20 new garages, a spectacular viewing terrace, and VIP hospitality suites which can accommodate up to 400 guests.
From late August, F4 SEA will set up at the Madras Motor Racing Track (MMRT), with testing scheduled for Friday 31 August. We expect very dry weather as is typical in Chennai during the month of September. The forecast for the region is very warm and cloudy with a maximum of 35 degrees for our race weekend, and no rain on the horizon until an early morning shower predicted for Tuesday.
Says Peter Thompson:
“We are returning to Madras with many fond memories and we are looking forward to two really exciting rounds at the newly-refurbished MMRT. We hope that the Asian heroes we helped create, including Narain, will continue to inspire our current crop of young drivers.”
Indian drivers such as Mohammed Nalwalla and Nayan Chatterjee from Mumbai, and Akash Gowda have all honed their skills with the Meritus team. Akash has gone on to race in F3 while Nayan is competing in the MRF championship. Mohammed Nalwalla raced GTs in the UK and may return – along with Nayan – as guest drivers for the forthcoming rounds 3 and 4.
What’s in store for the F4SEA pilots and who will be up to the Madras challenge? In Rounds 1 and 2 at Sepang Kane Shepherd came out on top as he knows the track well, having competed there for the past few years. But India is a blank canvas for everybody and youngsters Muizz Musyaffa, Ryo Komikado, Alessandro Ghiretti, Antoine Potty and Luke Thompson will prepare by walking the track and acclimatising themselves to the new location and that’s really all we know for sure as its anyone’s guess who will walk away from the sub-continent in the lead!